15 April 2015

Don't Trust the B and Undeserved Immediate Hatred of TV Shows

You know what is a great way to gain a lot of followers on the Internet? Continually talk about shows and movies that everybody hates. Sure, I could be talking about Game of Thrones or Daredevil right now (at least in a positive light), but that would just be mindless clickbait, a mere drop in a sea of articles that don't really advance knowledge but simply justify common viewing habits, giving consumers a sense of shared identity, as well as offering some outlet for continued love which never really gets better than the show itself. I don't care about any of that shit. Let's talk about a little show everyone hates called Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.
Not the B's!

Do you remember this thing? It was nuts. It premiered as a mid-season replacement in April, 2011 on ABC's Wednesday Night Shit-O-Rama Block, coming on at 9:30 pm EST, but that was never late enough. It was somehow picked up for the Fall 2011 season and sputtered for nineteen more episodes airing on various days before finally being put to sleep. I still know it mostly for this SNL sketch, which is how I first heard of its cancellation.

I remember being pretty happy watching this sketch, not only because it's nuts, and a total showcase for Bill Hader, who rarely got a chance to shine like this, but also because I learned that Don't Trust the B was cancelled. The joke works because it had this aura of being a ridiculous show that no one of sound mind should be upset was cancelled. That's all sort of a construct in the pop culture mind of the country though, and the B was always dead on arrival, and having never even seen the show myself, I was excited to hear it wouldn't be plaguing our airwaves, even though at the time I didn't even watch ABC. It couldn't have mattered less to the daily function of my life, but I was still pumped to hear it had failed.

Why? Does it come down to its awful title? The stupid attempt to be edgy without really having the nerve to say the word "Bitch"? Using "B----" exclusively was really an exercise in futility - trying so hard to stir controversy while being afraid to actually do it, and no show on television, much less Network television would have a hard swear like that in the title. Other offenders have included $#*! My Dad Says and GCB, which stood for Good Christian Bitches, which is a totally insane premise good for another article, by the way. These TV Titles are hard to write, actually. I had to look up a few times what the exact symbols used for $#*! are each time, and counting out the dashes for B---- is a pain in the ass. No critic wants to write that over and over each week for years and years, so they trash it. That may be a far-fetched theory but it's legitimate.

There's also the matter of how to actually say these shows. Amongst private company do I say "Don't Trust the B" or "Don't Trust the Bitch"? Who knows. It becomes virtually impossible to talk about without drawing attention to how damn awkward the title is. The thing is, it was originally shopped to FOX, and then ABC took it and changed the title briefly to just Apartment 23 (which isn't all that descriptive, either), and then to the original title. It's all just awkwardly specific and limiting for a fairly unique show. Anyway, all my rage and I'm sure the dismissal of the nation was based on its title.

This belies a show doing some pretty weird shit for ABC's Primetime Comedy block. This probably contributed to its downfall, because I'm not sure it gelled with ABC 2011. It's a shame that FOX passed because it could easily be seen on FOX's current Tuesday Shit-O-Rama lineup, which features a lot of similar shows featuring hordes of young people both in the workplace and living life, like New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Weird Loners. It's at least as bad as Weird Loners. I say this because the B was inherently a young peoples' show, starring a sociopath and a fish-out-of-water Indiana girl (something apparently not lost on other show developers) who are flung together, with ensuing hilarity.
Seriously, this show turned
me into a Van Der Beek fan.

There's a bit more to the B than that, although its horrible protagonist should be enough to turn people off entirely. By the end of the pilot there is a mix there that shows that the eponymous B does care about some people, most notably James Van Der Beek. See, before he was widely known for his Power Rangers video, the Dawson actually appeared as a fictionalized version of himself, as a regular on Don't Trust the B. I know, if you're anything like me who didn't know a damned thing about this debacle before a few days ago your interest has just been peaked.

Rounding out the cast is Eric Andre, who has made a series of completely insane career choices, from the irredeemable 2 Broke Girls to the mind-fuckingly insane trip that is The Eric Andre Show. Your interest should be peaked more. Needless to say, these talents aren't totally put to good use, but they deserve more attention than the B ever got. Dawson in particular seems at once at ease riffing on his good looks, his role on Dawson's Creek, and just being a handsome, quasi-has been in New York City who is best friends with the B for some reason. It's all sort of ridiculous, with a pride in its ridiculousness that should have been rewarded instead of reviled.

I'm fairly certain that if this had been on cable or had been an original streaming program, along with a better title, we might still be talking about it today - or at least, in respect to its success rather than failure. There's just that narrow of a gap in the industry between bombshell joke and eternal glory. I'm not saying we shouldn't always immediately judge TV shows, for every B there's a Bad Judge or something out there that can't recover from its trainwreck, but give this thing a shot. It's streaming on Netflix now and if you're not too embarrassed, give it a play. Yes, when your friends are over to watch Archer it's going to suck to have Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 show up in your recently played list, suggesting similar titles. Summing up even the courage to write this article was difficult for me. This show's reputation is so damn toxic it has rendered any positive discussion about it completely embarrassing. Now that's how you gain Blogger followers.

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